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Concepts in Receptor Optimization:  Targeting the RGD Peptide

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posted on 2006-04-12, 00:00 authored by Wei Chen, Chia-en Chang, Michael K. Gilson
Synthetic receptors have a wide range of potential applications, but it has been difficult to design low molecular weight receptors that bind ligands with high, “proteinlike” affinities. This study uses novel computational methods to understand why it is hard to design a high-affinity receptor and to explore the limits of affinity, with the bioactive peptide RGD as a model ligand. The M2 modeling method is found to yield excellent agreement with experiment for a known RGD receptor and then is used to analyze a series of receptors generated in silico with a de novo design algorithm. Forces driving binding are found to be systematically opposed by proportionate repulsions due to desolvation and entropy. In particular, strong correlations are found between Coulombic attractions and the electrostatic desolvation penalty and between the mean energy change on binding and the cost in configurational entropy. These correlations help explain why it is hard to achieve high affinity. The change in surface area upon binding is found to correlate poorly with affinity within this series. Measures of receptor efficiency are formulated that summarize how effectively a receptor uses surface area, total energy, and Coulombic energy to achieve affinity. Analysis of the computed efficiencies suggests that a low molecular weight receptor can achieve proteinlike affinity. It is also found that macrocyclization of a receptor can, unexpectedly, increase the entropy cost of binding because the macrocyclic structure further restricts ligand motion.